Tuesday, November 21, 2023

(By Andrew Pessin, Continued from  part 1). 

3. How Would You Respond To An Openly Genocidal Terror Group That Doesn’t Care About Its Own Civilians?

So far I’ve argued that every decent human being must answer (Q) with an unqualified, full-stop “no,” and that the “no” answer reveals the true nature of the Palestinian movement as a genocidal Islamist movement seeking to murder all Jews and destroy the West. Once you understand this then everything about the “conflict” looks different including, now, how one might think about Israel’s response to October 7.

If you can’t answer “no” to (Q) then you cannot understand the actual threat that Israel faces, and thus cannot understand (and ought not to criticize) Israel’s response.

It’s common for anti-Israelists to insist that people have the right to “resist” their oppression, adding “by any means necessary” as a sanitized way to answer “yes” to (Q), thus justifying violence against Israel and Israelis. But now if people have the right to “resist” their oppression, people surely have the right to “resist” their extermination, and “by any means necessary.” On this view there would literally be no moral limits to what Israel can do in response to Hamas. The only people who deny that right to the Jews have already dehumanized them to the point where Jews no longer enjoy the “human rights” all other humans have, as we’ll explore below.

That the threat Hamas poses is precisely that of extermination is indisputable. From its founding charter to nearly every action and statement in the 35 years since, as we’ve seen, its goal has been clear. Hamas murdered and wounded many thousands of Israelis throughout the 1990s and 2000s in suicide bombings and other attacks. Israel then withdrew from Gaza in 2005 at great financial and emotional cost to itself partly as a gesture toward peaceful coexistence. In response Hamas took over the enclave by a violent coup in 2007 and immediately began firing rockets at Israel, each one a double war-crime (fired from within a civilian population toward a civilian population). In the past 16 years Hamas has launched tens of thousands of rockets and started five full-fledged wars in addition to many smaller skirmishes, in addition to perpetrating many individual terrorist attacks. Each war ended the same way, as a stalemate, with Hamas still in power—after which Hamas then took the intervening time to rearm and get militarily stronger. October 7 escalated their program to a whole new, barbaric level, and they have promised to do it again and again until every Jew is eliminated.

It is indisputable that Hamas will never accept any peaceful “solution,” beyond the elimination of all Jews. They say that openly and every behavior confirms it. If Israel is to defend itself from this genocidal program, then, it can only be by the elimination of Hamas. And since Hamas gets stronger with each interval, there is no longer any reasonable option but to eliminate Hamas—now, because next time they might even have nuclear weapons, supplied by Iran.

If the State of Israel is to protect its citizens, then, it has the moral obligation of eliminating Hamas.

The question is how.

Well, how would you fight a genocidal enemy that has no concern for its own civilians, and would even be happy to sacrifice them as long as it destroyed you? By conceding to them? Empowering them? Giving them a state?

Or would you fight them “by any means necessary”?

Of course most anti-Israelists condemn any measure that Israel takes to contain Hamas’s genocidal threat, including the non-violent ones. These include the blockade Israel imposed after Hamas took power and began firing rockets, which, in an inversion of reality, anti-Israelists now claim is a justified cause of the violence Hamas perpetrates against Jews rather than its justified effect. These also include many of the policies and actions that anti-Israelists attribute to “the occupation,” such as the separation fence, checkpoints, even some of the settlement activity in Judea and Samaria (which they refer to by the Jordanian colonial name of “West Bank”). When you answer “no” to (Q) and thus recognize the actual threat Israeli Jews are up against, these measures are more accurately seen not as “the mechanism of occupation” but as necessary measures of self-defense.

Still, these non-violent measures obviously don’t test the limits of the phrase “by any means necessary,” so it’s Israel’s military responses that draw their special ire, for example due to the civilian casualties that result. And indeed, in each of the five wars and other skirmishes started by Hamas, Israel’s military responses have caused civilian casualties.

That topic requires its own substantive essay, but here just a couple of brief points.

First, again, those who answer “yes” to (Q) are not in much position to complain of the other side killing civilians. If they endorse civilian casualties when these are the direct target of the attack—as they were in the October 7 slaughter—they can hardly object to civilian casualties as collateral damage from the targeting of military threats. Or if they may resist oppression “by any means necessary” they can hardly object when Israel resists its extermination “by any means necessary.”

More importantly, if anyone can figure out how to eliminate Hamas without any civilian casualties at all then Israel would be all ears. That is obviously impossible both by all the general norms of warfare—has there ever been a war, in all history, that didn’t involve civilian casualties?—and all the more so by the fact that Hamas embeds itself among civilians, uses them as human shields, blocks their efforts to evacuate, has rockets that misfire and kills them itself, and more. These multiple war crimes in fact make Hamas morally and legal responsible for any civilian casualties that result from strikes targeting Hamas.

Does that then license the unlimited slaughter of civilians, the utter destruction of Gaza?

Of course not, at least to those who answer “no” to (Q).

In fact Israel, unlike Hamas, makes extensive efforts to follow the international “laws of war,” which allow civilian casualties in the relevant proportions and under the relevant conditions. This is not the place to defend that claim, except to note (1) how remarkable is the degree to which Israel conforms to international law in a conflict with an enemy who flouts it entirely—the October 7 massacre of civilians including children being just one example of thousands—at the same time as (2) the international community relentlessly charges Israel with flouting those laws while ignoring Hamas’s actual blatant violations. It actually isn’t difficult to show that Israel takes more care to protect Gazan civilians than does Hamas, the enclave’s ruling authority.

The “no” answer also gives one more important result.

Already in the first days of Israel’s response to October 7 the calls for “de-escalation,” and “ceasefire,” began. Anti-Israelists called for these increasingly vociferously as the days then weeks of the campaign went on, condemning alleged Israeli “genocide” in the form of civilian casualties. But wasn’t Hamas’s mass sadistic slaughter of some 1200 mostly civilians itself an escalation? And part of an explicit campaign of, literally, genocide? How does one come out for “de-escalation” only after the Jew-slaughterers have finished their slaughter, without even acknowledging that slaughter? How does one come out against “genocide” only after the openly genocidal group has finished its round of genocidal activity, and do so without acknowledging that genocidal activity? Think about what that behavior reveals: they have no objection when Jews are attacked, but they condemn Jews when they respond. Or maybe: genocide is dreadful, except when it’s perpetrated against Jews.

Further, to call for ceasefire now simply means that Hamas wins, and can just use the interim once more to increase its military might for the next round of conflict. That’s not a genuine ceasefire; that is in the long term to prolong the fighting with almost surely a much greater civilian toll overall. Empirical experience, after five wars in 16 years, clearly demonstrates that to be true. Nor is such a call respecting the power of the “no” answer to (Q): as Hamas openly declared, that atrocity is exactly what is going to happen again and again, unless Hamas is eliminated.

Moreover, there is a whole other mode of de-escalation, and genocide prevention, that these anti-Israel activists are presumably intentionally ignoring. They could be demanding that Hamas return all the hostages immediately and surrender, and then the war is over, instantly. You don’t get more de-escalating and anti-genocidal than that. It is extraordinarily telling that this is not the mode they are calling for.

Their calls for ceasefire are, then, calls for the victory of Hamas.

If you answer “no” to (Q), and condemn the Hamas slaughter full stop, then you recognize the absolute unacceptability of the continued existence of Hamas, which in turn justifies a massive Israeli response to Hamas even despite tragically significant civilian casualties—which are in any case entirely Hamas’s responsibility.

And if you answer “yes”?

Then by your own reckoning the Jewish people may “resist” their own extermination “by any means necessary,” and you have no standing to object.

4. Delegitimization and Dehumanization

We turn now to the next result from a full stop “no” answer to (Q): we are compelled to examine exactly how it has come to pass that so many on our campuses can find themselves answering “yes” instead.

Let’s begin with this observation from Vassar College professor of Russian history Michaela Pohl from 2016:

The atmosphere at Vassar … is troubled. I am not Jewish, but even I have experienced an increase in hostility and strained silences among students and colleagues … I have been called a “f--king fascist,” “Zionist” and “idiot” for speaking out against Vassar’s BDS resolution and speaking up for Israel and for US policy. I have seen Jewish students profiled and singled out at a BDS meeting. I have felt the icy silence that reigns in some departments … Academics who suggest that Israel is harvesting organs … earn [approving] tweets and clicks—and deal in hate speech … It is speech that angers and mobilizes and that relishes its effects but denies that the effect was ever the intention.

As for the long-term effects of such an environment, Pohl noted that “students look down at their desks when I say things about Jewish emancipation [in Russia] … [there are] embarrassed silences in class while discussing Jewish history.”

This may be America in 2023, but what we’re seeing is an old story, dressed up fresh for the 21st century Western world.

Years of lies, fertilizing the soil, all deliberately designed to delegitimize and dehumanize the Jew, to label the Jew as inhuman, demonic, pure evil. Once you are convinced that the Jew represents evil, then persecuting Jews, even killing Jews, becomes not only acceptable but even obligatory. If the Jew is evil, then you in turn must be a very good person in persecuting and killing him. The ancient and medieval Christians did this for centuries, portraying the Jew as the fleshly embodiment of evil for their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. The Germans and the Nazis did this for decades in racial terms, inspired and justifying their actions by the antisemitic forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion, even developing a whole academic discipline to demonstrate the evils of the Jews and thus inspiring the book title, as apt today as ever, Hitler’s Professors. After some decades of this program, killing actual living Jews isn’t merely easier but becomes an act of virtue.

The newer lies, now also several decades old, are merely superficial variations on the older lies, aiming to better reflect the specific evils of today. The charges of “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” “settler colonialism,” “apartheid,” and more recently, right out of Goebbels’ playbook, “Jewish supremacy”—not to mention probably every single thing most people believe about Gaza—all of these are lies, in fact easily documentable and demonstrable lies for anyone who takes a few minutes to honestly evaluate them. (Many people for example don’t know that rather unlike most “open air prisons” or “concentration camps” Gaza has four-star hotels and restaurants, luxury cars, ritzy malls, affluent neighborhoods, fancy beach resorts, and an obesity problem, not to mention a massive military infrastructure.) These charges don’t have to be true, they just have to be widely circulated, widely repeated, and widely believed, so that the Jew becomes the embodiment of whatever is considered most evil today.

And this is what the Palestinian movement, along with its many “progressive” allies, has successfully accomplished.

After almost twenty years of the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement against Israel, orchestrated on campus by the more than 200 chapters of SJP, their short-term goal, that of damaging Israel economically, was a bust; but the long-term goal, the real goal, has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Whether or not a particular BDS resolution passes or fails on a given campus, the campaign itself soaks the campus in all the lies above for weeks on end, year after year. Most students don’t really follow the details, but come away thinking, man, those Jews with their genocide, apartheid, and supremacy, must really be pretty evil.

And now in 2023 no one blinks when SJP asserts boldly, baldly, as if factually, on their recent social media celebrating the slaughter of 1200 mostly Jews, that every single Israeli Jew is a "settler"—even the ones who live within the internationally recognized borders of the U.N. member State of Israel, even the ones whose lineage in that land might well trace back to Biblical times. In today’s campus vernacular the label “settler” is a slur rivalling in evilness the slur “Nazi” (which they also repeatedly sling against Israelis). If every Israeli Jew is a settler, then every Israeli Jew is evil, and therefore legitimately murdered. That includes the babies, and the grandmothers, and the unarmed dancing teenagers, and by the way it also justifies torturing them and raping them before you murder them.

Nor is an eye blinked when George Washington University’s SJP, for example, goes even further and openly declares that “We reject the distinction between 'civilian' and 'militant' … Every Palestinian is a civilian even if they hold arms. A settler is an aggressor, a soldier, and an occupier even if they are lounging on our occupied beaches.” The assault on language and intelligence here is almost as bad as the physical assault on Jewish civilians that it justifies. It is so shocking that it must be repeated: “Every Palestinian is a civilian even if they hold arms. A settler is an aggressor even if lounging on the beach.” That adorable four-year-old boy, born in that land to parents who were born in that land to parents who were born in that land (and beyond), splashing in the waves as his loving mother looks on: that small boy is an aggressor, a soldier, an occupier, a—settler.

Every Israeli Jew is guilty. And if every Israeli Jew is guilty, is evil, then so is every other Jew who supports them and may even be related to them. Since approximately half the world’s Jews live in Israel and the significant majority of the other half supports Israel, feels connected to it, has relatives and acquaintances who live there, and so on, then the result is clear:

There are no innocent Jews.

The actual Nazis couldn’t have orchestrated it better.

But even this is only part of the story.

To this now two-decade-old propaganda campaign was added, in the past decade or so, another ideological movement. Going by various names—Wokeness, Critical Race Theory (CRT), Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)—this ideology has taken campuses (and many other institutions) by storm, thoroughly exploding after the infamous George Floyd affair in 2020. The antagonism this movement shows not merely toward Israel but towards Jews in general is well documented, but the simple summary is this. Members of Western societies, including America, divide into two basic classes, they say, the oppressor and the oppressed, with one’s membership determined primarily by one’s race. As such, “white supremacy” is understood as the fundamental evil responsible for all sorts of disparities between white people and all people of color. Where there are such disparities (in wealth and income, in health, in education, in admission to Ivy League universities, in police interactions, etc.) these are due to white privilege affording benefits unavailable to people of color. Ideas such as “merit,” “equal opportunity,” and “color-blindness” are derided as either illusions or mechanisms by which to enforce white supremacy.

What does this have to do with the Jews?

Since Jews, on average, “do well”—never mind that many Jews are poor, unhealthy, not prosperous, and have long been disproportionately targeted for discrimination and violence etc.—then Jews are in the class of “white supremacist oppressors of people of color.” (Never mind too that actual white supremacists, going back to the Nazis and earlier, persecuted Jews for not being white, and that many, many Jews are racially indistinguishable from other people of color.) In fact since Jews “do well” on average compared to other “white” groups, Jews are sometimes considered uber-white: the worst of the oppressors. If the SJPers and BDSers label Jews with the defamatory slur of being settlers, the CRTers and DEIers label them with the equally defamatory slur of being uber-white.

Between these two sets of ideologies so dominant on campuses then, Israeli Jews, American Jews, European Jews, Jews simpliciter—are simply evil, full stop, the same full stop that should accompany the “no” answer to (Q).

There are no innocent Jews, not in Israel, not elsewhere.

Those “decent” administrators, faculty members, who say nothing while 1200 Jews are slaughtered—and livestreamed, with the most horrific recordings circulating the globe getting millions of views and shares and likes and celebratory comments—do they remain silent because they too believe these Jews actually—deserve this?

One liberated kibbutz included the bodies of 40 babies.


Some beheaded.

Are there no innocent Jews, who don’t deserve this fate?

If you can’t condemn this with a full stop “no” to (Q)—if you remain silent—then you must believe these Jews deserve it. I can draw no other conclusion. Is it possible that my academic colleagues, sophisticated, educated, refined, “experts” in values—for do they not daily proclaim their expertise in values, in their anti-racism, their anti-hate, their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion?—is it possible that the people we work with, share offices with, who teach our children, share the belief and value system of the ancient and medieval Christians, the modern Nazis?

And of Hamas, as we have already discussed?

“We are all Hamas!” the young woman in North Carolina screamed—speaking, perhaps, for all these administrators, faculty members, students who remained silent.

Is there any other identity group about which it would be acceptable to celebrate their mass slaughter, and campaign to bring that slaughter to your campus? What exactly are all those diversity and inclusion administrators paid to do, if not to prevent this?

Or at least condemn it?

But silence is what we got on my campus, and on many campuses—like the silence in Prof. Pohl’s class whenever the topic of Jews come up.

Silence is complicity—and equivalent to a “yes” answer to (Q), at least when the victims are Jews.

 (Part 3/conclusion)

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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